With contests in only half the ten town meeting precincts and only one contest for town wide positions, no pocket book Override (fortunately) or Charter change of government (unfortunately) on the ballot, the April 9 annual spring town election promises to be about as exciting as watching snow melt.
When asked what she thought the voter turnout would be, Town Clerk Sandra Burgess responded succinctly: "low."
For the second election in a row, Select Board -- the highest political position in town -- incumbents Alisa Brewer and Jim Wald have no opposition, so their three year term renewal is guaranteed. (A write in candidate has never beaten a candidate who appears on the ballot in the modern age.)
Moderator Harrison Gregg has retired his gavel after almost 20 years of service and his occasional pinch hitter over the years, Jim Pistrang, will have no opposition for the important position.
Amherst School Committee has two seats up for grabs and three candidates: Richard Hood (incumbent), Kathleen Traphagen and Amherst College Professor Barry O'Connell. None of them appear to be even remotely as forthright or controversial as former School Committee member Catherine Sanderson, so the campaign will be a genteel affair.
Some might even argue, boring.
Although a dozen UMass students in the mix, including SGA President Akshay Kapoor, could spice things up. Or not.
8 candidates for 8 seats (3 of them students)
Rental registration, with a concurrent permit system, will be the most contentious issue on the Town Meeting warrant. For over a generation Amherst has struggled with too little housing and too many students resulting in high rents, substandard, dangerous slum houses, and distressed neighbors.
The Safe & Health Neighborhood working group will make a recommendation to the Town Manager on rental registration and permits.
Since it will be a General By Law change the measure will only require a majority vote at Town Meeting rather than the super-majority that is required for Zoning articles.
Town Meeting starts May 6.
Most competitive Precinct with 15 candidates for 8 three-year seats
Competitive Precinct 9